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Exascale supercomputer: Frontier smashes computing speed records

Frontier, a supercomputer constructed by Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory, is the primary able to an exaflop – a billion billion operations per second


31 Might 2022

The Frontier supercomputer

Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Vitality

The world’s first exascale computer, able to performing a billion billion operations per second, has been constructed by Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory in Tennessee.

A typical laptop computer is simply succesful of some teraflops, or a trillion operations per second, which is 1,000,000 occasions much less. The exaflop machine, known as Frontier, may assist clear up a spread of complicated scientific issues, resembling correct local weather modelling, nuclear fusion simulation and drug discovery.

“Frontier will supply modelling and simulation capabilities on the highest stage of computing efficiency,” says Thomas Zacharia at Oak Ridge Nationwide Laboratory.

The Frontier computing system is housed in 74 separate cupboards, comprising 9400 CPUs, or commonplace laptop processors, and 37,000 GPUs, which are processors designed to render 3D graphics but can also be used for a range of other tasks.

This implies the machine has a complete of 8,730,112 cores able to parallel computing duties; a typical laptop computer has between 5 and 9. At peak energy, the pc generates a lot warmth that it requires 4 high-powered pumps to push greater than 25,000 litres of water across the machine every minute.

Frontier’s exaflop efficiency signifies that not solely is it number one in the TOP500, a global collaboration to rank the world’s strongest supercomputers, nevertheless it additionally represents 1 / 4 of the computing energy of all the listing.

“One machine represents 25 per cent of the whole efficiency of the entire listing, so it’s a really, very spectacular achievement,” says Simon McIntosh-Smith on the College of Bristol, UK.

Frontier has but to attain its closing kind, both. Over the approaching months and years, as its software program is optimised, it may attain a theoretical peak of two exaflops.

Previously, supercomputing milestones have been shortly adopted by many extra machines with related capabilities. Whereas there are a number of exascale machines deliberate for the following couple of years, it isn’t clear how widespread this expertise would possibly change into.

“The speed of enchancment in electronics has slowed down considerably, so we don’t count on exascale machines to proliferate by means of the TOP500 as shortly because it did for petascale, for instance,” says McIntosh-Smith, referring to machines with a thousandth of the capabilities.

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